“Piping Hot” – exploring the musical heritage of Cristina Pato and the gaita

Event Info

The gaita, or Galician bagpipe, has an unmistakable sound: haunting, tender at moments, and ferocious in others. A member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble, Cristina Pato is one of its few masters. “She’s a virtuoso, and when she opens the floodgates of her technique, the force can knock you back a few steps.” (The New York Times) In two different programs with her quartet, Pato will showcase all that her instrument and prodigious talent can offer. At 6PM, she samples the diffusion of Latino music from her most recent CD “Latina,” and at 9PM the ensemble returns to explore the gaita’s folk roots and legacy with selections from “Migrations.”

About the Artist:

Internationally acclaimed Galician bagpiper master, classical pianist and passionate educator, Cristina Pato enjoys an active professional career devoted to cultural exchange and to creating new paths for her unique instrument. Her dual careers have led to performances on major stages throughout the world, including regular tours in the U.S. and Europe and sporadic tours in India, Jerusalem , Angola, China, Korea, Mexico, Turkey, and her native Spain. Ms. Pato is an active member of Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and serves as educational advisor for the Silkroad Project.

In 1998, Cristina Pato became the first female gaita player to release a solo album, and since then she has collaborated with world music, jazz, classical and experimental artists (including Chicago Symphony, Yo-Yo Ma, Arturo O’Farril, New York Philharmonic, Paquito D’Rivera and dancers Damian Woetzel and Lil’ Buck). Ms. Pato’s unique and powerful style, full of passion and energy, has been acclaimed by The New York Times as “a virtuosic burst of energy”; The Wall Street Journal has called her “one of the living masters of the gaita.” Ms. Pato fuses the influences of Latin music, jazz, pop and contemporary music, and uses her artistry and unprecedented virtuosic skill to bring her musical vision to life.

An active recording artist and performer since age 12, Ms. Pato has released and produced six solo gaita recordings and two as a pianist. She has also collaborated on more than 40 recordings as a guest artist, including the Grammy Award winner Yo-Yo Ma and Friends: Songs of Joy and Peace (SONY BMG 2008) and the jazz album Miles Español: New Sketches of Spain (Entertainment One Music, 2011). She is also featured in the documentary “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble” directed by academy award winner director Morgan Neville.

Ms. Pato has given more than 600 concerts with her own band, many of them recorded and broadcast by television stations such as RAI, BBC, TVG, CNN and RTVE; her work has been praised by newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, El Pais, El Correo Gallego, Downbeat Magazine and The Wall Street Journal.

Such an active touring and recording career has not thwarted her scholarship. Ms. Pato holds a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Collaborative Piano from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University (NJ), where she was awarded the Edna Mason Scholarship and the Irene Alm Memorial Prize for excellence in scholarly research and performance. Ms. Pato holds degrees in Piano Performance, Music Theory and Chamber Music from the Conservatorio de Musica del Liceu (Barcelona). She also holds a Master of Fine Arts Degree in Digital Arts (Computer Music) from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra (Barcelona).

These academic and artistic pursuits have contributed to her educational endeavors. Ms. Pato serves as educational advisor for the Silkroad Project, collaborating closely in planning residencies and educational activities, including the multi-year partnership with Harvard University. She has served as a panelist, mentor and faculty member in various projects the Silk Road Ensemble is developing with the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Graduate School of Education, including The Arts and Passion-Driven Learning summer institute for artists and educators. Her belief that the power of the arts in education benefits the ecosystem of society has led her to create her own arts in education conference in Galicia, a multidisciplinary festival, and to write a bimonthly column for the Spanish newspaper El Correo Gallego.

In 2012 Cristina wrote “My Lethe Story: The River of Forgetfulness”, a storytelling- chamber music piece commissioned by Silkroad and premiered at Harvard University in a session that included a panel with neurologist Dr. Alonso-Alonso. The piece combines Cristina’s passion for neuroscience and the personal story of her mother’s memory loss. With that piece she has developed a new path of understanding the power of combining arts and sciences in academic institutions. In 2014 she was named Mellon Visiting Artist in Residence for the 2014-2015 season at the College of Holy Cross. Pato’s residency was part of the launch of “Arts Transcending Borders,” a new initiative designed to infuse the fine and performing arts in students’ academic lives and create new opportunities throughout the curriculum and the community by transcending cultural, geographic and disciplinary boundaries.

In 2014 Cristina’s groundbreaking Gaita and Orchestra Commissioning Project was awarded a grant from New Music USA to build a repertoire for gaita and symphony orchestra. Two of those commissions have already been premiered in the 2015-2016 season with Sphinx Orchestra in Detroit, Chicago Sinfonietta in Chicago, and Real Filharmonía de Galicia and Orquestra Simfònica del Vallès in Barcelona.

Her latest album Latina (2015) has received critical acclaim, including a four and a half star review in Downbeat Magazine. The album explores the chains of cultural adaptation through the evolution of six beat rhythmic patterns originating in the Latin music of Europe and migrating to South America, and provides a diverse program of musical styles performed by an expert group of musicians fluent in jazz and folkloric music, the Cristina Pato Quartet.

In 2016 Cristina was appointed to serve at the prestigious Artist Committee of the arts advocacy organization, Americans for the Arts. She is also a regular collaborator of the Vail International Dance Festival and the Turnaround Arts educational program of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities.

In 2017 Cristina Pato was named Blodgett Distinguished Artist in Residence at Harvard University (Department of Music). 

Ms. Pato is a resident of New York City since 2005.